It’s episode four already! This means we’re almost halfway through series five. This time has flown past. Has the show gotten past its hurdle of character and story development and started moving things along? Did I enjoy this episode? Read on, but as always, beware of spoilers!
The mysterious land of Dorne is finally in the title sequence, replacing the Eyrie’s coveted position. I like the animation but I think the snake is a bit cheesy. I would have liked to see more of the architecture because from what we’ve seen in the teaser trailers and previous episodes, it looks pretty amazing. That’s probably the nerdiest thing I’ve ever said in these write-ups.
The episode begins with our lord of the friendzone Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), who has kidnapped Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) whilst he was urinating off the edge of a bridge in Volantis. Jorah takes Tyrion to a boat he has commandeered (but technically paid for as he tosses some coins to a guy he just knocked out, showing that he has retained a basic amount of morals).
Following the general boat theme, we then see Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) who are also on a boat, heading towards Dorne. Jaime passes by Tarth, the island where Brienne is from, and everyone feels sad because our dynamic duo aren’t together anymore. But Bronn and Jaime prove to be a very interesting duo as well, as the two establish more of that bromance we saw when Bronn taught Jaime how to fight with his left hand last season. Jaime tells Bronn that they are off to save his “niece” the Princess Myrcella in Dorne. Bronn gives off a funny face at the word “niece”; he knows what’s up. Bronn questions why Jaime has to go, and Jaime says he doesn’t want to start a war, alluding to his sensitive diplomatic mission that must be handled in the least violent way possible. Wars have been started over princesses in Westeros before (the exposition of which we get later on). Jaime doesn’t do anything for his non-incest case when he tells Bronn it has to be him who rescues Myrcella. He also says that if he ever sees Tyrion again he’ll split him in two for killing their father, but also give Tyrion Bronn’s regards before doing so. Jaime continues to be a morally grey character that I enjoy watching (and reading). I just love Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s performance as well. He’s so great.
Next up – my favourite HBIC Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) chairs another Small Council meeting. Lord Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths), who is now the Master of Coin, discusses the money issues that the Crown is currently facing and makes some silly jokes – he’s so jolly, I love his smiling face. Cersei sends Mace Tyrell on a special trip to the Iron Bank of Braavos to consult with the Bank and gather some more funds (which is interesting since they gave a whole bunch of cash dollars to Stannis last season). Mace Tyrell is to go to Braavos with Ser Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie), which Mace Tyrell is honoured by, as Trant is a member of the elite Kingsguard and can afford him special protection. Mace Tyrell says he will give Cersei’s regards to the Titan of Braavos and leaves, and Cersei’s bitchface is amazingly intense. Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) comments that the Small Council is getting smaller and smaller. Cersei says it is not small enough. Interesting. She clearly wants to run the show. Is this Cersei’s eventual objective? Is it also worth noting that Ser Meryn Trant is on Arya’s (Maisie Williams) kill list, and Arya is in Braavos, putting them both in the same city? Maybe they will meet up! Very interesting indeed!
My favourite Cersei then meets with the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) who doesn’t drink wine (and is therefore not to be trusted, am I right ladies). Cersei seeks to have the Faith Militant reinstalled; an “army to the gods” that worked as a military arm of the Faith of the Seven. Cersei asks, “Perhaps the gods need a sword of their own?”. The High Sparrow describes the Faith Militant as “an army that defends the bodies and souls of the common people”, and rightly states that the King isn’t able to punish everyone; maybe the faith should help out as well? Cersei and the High Sparrow appear to have come to an agreement. Cersei mentions a sinner within their midst who is “shielded by gold and privilege”. I wonder who she’s talking about? I seriously love Lena Headey. Cersei is up to some manipulative business. I love the way Lena Headey and Jonathan Pryce work together as well. They both present as slippery snakes who are working to their own ends.
The Faith Militant then go out and wreak havoc, spilling all the alcohol, destroying false idols, trashing the gambler’s tables, and going into brothels and hurting sex workers and their clientele. Then they head into a room where a man is presumably having sex with a male sex worker and spout some crazy homophobic nonsense. This action is intercut with the creepy vision of Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon) getting the Seven-Pointed Star of the Faith of the Seven cut into his forehead. That’s going a bit far. Lancel then heads with some of the other Faith Militant to where Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) is practicing his fighting. The Faith Militant state that he has “broken the laws of gods and men”, referring to his homosexuality which is an open secret. They capture Loras and take him away.
Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) then confronts Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) about her brother, and Tommen is eating a meal with a hilarious expression on his face. Margaery accuses Cersei of capturing Loras because she’s vengeful and jealous that Tommen is not “hers anymore”. Tommen asks in a very naive fashion, “Aren’t you and mother getting along?”. He seriously doesn’t get it. Tommen promises to set Loras free though, and goes to see his mother who says that she didn’t do it, the Faith Militant did. Technically we all know it’s a part of her master plan so that she doesn’t have to marry Loras (as they were betrothed last season).
Tommen goes to see the High Sparrow but the Faith Militant won’t let him past as he’s praying. This is where the crown and the faith clash. The Faith Militant don’t recognise the power of the crown on religious turf. Some nearby peasants call out that he’s a bastard and an abomination; Tommen says they will find another way to rescue Loras. When Margaery questions him, Tommen says he could not rescue Loras without resorting to violence. This shows us his position on using force when in power, but it also shows one of his weaknesses. Tommen is in a difficult position, stuck between his wife, his mother, his faith, and his reputation as King. But we all know Tommen will probably help Margaery out in order to get in her good books again.
Meanwhile at the Wall, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane… swoon), his wife Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) and Melisandre (Carice van Houten) are hanging out. Selyse asks about Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) parentage and whether his mother was a tavern slut. Stannis says that wasn’t Ned’s style. This whole conversation is kind of alluding to a fan theory that’s been around for ages. Who is Jon’s real mother? Internet Thrones nerds will understand when I say this scene is kind of referring to the R+L=J theory. Anyway, Selyse says to Stannis that she should have given him a son as their daughter is weak and deformed. Rude. Melisandre says that scars are nothing to the Lord of Light, reminding Selyse that she is just the worst. Stannis tells Melisandre that they’re off to Winterfell to retake the North. He says he needs Melisandre with him. But what does Melisandre need?
Jon Snow is signing some documents asking for men and supplies from nearby Houses. Sam Tarly (John Bradley-West) appears to be his secretary now. Jon says he won’t sign the letter headed for the Boltons as they murdered his family; fair enough. But as Lord Commander he knows he has to do it and set aside his family loyalties and history to defend the realms of men. He signs the letter. Melisandre enters and asks Jon to go with her and Stannis to Winterfell as he knows the castle well. He refuses as he’s now Lord Commander and has other stuff to do. Melisandre then basically molests Jon, showing him her naked body and making him touch her. He doesn’t look completely offended but he denies Melisandre, saying he has sworn a vow of celibacy and still loves Ygritte, even though she’s dead. But here’s the kicker, Melisandre leaves and says: “You know nothing, Jon Snow”. How does she know that?! So creepy. I’m also really surprised and happy that Kit Harington is giving good performances this season.
Then it’s Stannis with his daughter Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram), a scene so cute that my heart nearly exploded. Shireen enters a room where her father is working. Stannis asks if she’s lonely and she says she’s just bored. Stannis admits that Castle Black is no place for a child. Shireen says she knows her mother doesn’t want her there because she flat out said so (the worst). She then asks Stannis if he’s ashamed of her. Here we finally get some good, humanising backstory on my main man Stannis Baratheon. He confesses to Shireen that her greyscale on her face is his fault. He confesses that he gave Shireen a doll that had greyscale on it, a wooden doll which was meant as an attack on his new daughter. Stannis says that when he found out Shireen had contracted greyscale, that he knew the odds were bad, but he wanted to cure her so he called all the Maesters and healers and apothecaries in order to save her life. Stannis says, “You are Princess Shireen of House Baratheon and you are my daughter”. Shireen wraps her father in a hug and he hugs her back gingerly. Finally, Stannis is humanised, with great character development and beautiful performances by Stephen Dillane and Kerry Ingram. I loved this moment, it was beautiful.
Back to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) in Winterfell, she’s downstairs in the crypts lighting candles for her deceased family members. Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) waltzes in and discusses some very relevant and interesting backstory in reference to Sansa’s deceased aunt Lyanna Stark. This backstory is making made significant for a particular reason that book readers have predicted for a long time. Littlefinger (who I keep typing as Littleginger) gives some backstory to Rhaegar Targaryen, Daenerys Targaryen’s now deceased brother, who after winning a tournament gave a crown of winter roses to Lyanna Stark instead of his wife Elia Martell. This one incident caused a war called Robert’s Rebellion, which led to Robert Baratheon usurping the Mad King to become King himself. Sansa says that yes, Rhaegar chose Lyanna, but then he kidnapped and raped her. Littlefinger tells Sansa that he’s leaving her in Winterfell with the Boltons as he has to head to King’s Landing. He says that Stannis will take Winterfell from the Boltons and when he does, Sansa will become Wardeness of the North, being the last surviving Stark (supposedly). Otherwise, if Stannis loses, Sansa will have to get at the Boltons from the inside.
We all know that Littlefinger knows everything about everything and has predicted a lot of the crazy stuff that’s gone down throughout the seasons. So when he says he’s betting on Stannis, we should probably bet on him too. He reinforces that the Boltons are dangerous, but that Sansa has learned from the best in terms of maneuvering within their circles. Littlefinger kisses Sansa goodbye and I almost vomit everywhere. Stop kissing her, you creep! Sansa says that when he returns she will be a married woman.
This is where I get a little bit skeptical because Littlefinger is meant to be the smartest man in Westeros, and yet he’s given up two of his best assets – he’s left Robin Arryn (Lino Facioli) in the hands of Yohn Royce, and now he’s leaving the last surviving Stark in the hands of the Boltons. It just seems silly to do this, leaving Sansa will people who are known to be cruel and dangerous and who could easily kill her. I hope this doesn’t happen.
Back with our bromantic friends Bronn and Jaime, they’re now rowing to Dorne. Unfortunately Jaime can’t row due to his golden hand. There are some nice shots here. The next morning, Bronn saves Jaime from being bitten by a dangerous looking snake. They ruminate on death and seem to bond with one another, which is nice. Then they’re tracked by Dornish soldiers who question them, leading to a well-choreographed fight scene in the sand dunes. This culminates in Jaime using his golden hand as a defense, which I’m quite surprised he didn’t think of already! Jaime manages to kill a Dornish soldier which must be great for his self-esteem. Unfortunately Jaime can’t bury the soldiers either and that gets to be Bronn’s job. Jaime and Bronn are definitely off to a great start in rescuing the Princess Myrcella from the Martells in Dorne.
Also in Dorne, we see Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) who visits the Sand Snakes, who are Oberyn Martell’s bastard daughters. The three daughters are Obara (Keisha Castle-Hughes), Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers), and Nymeria (Jessica Henwick). I don’t even want to talk about these people because their accents were so bad. They’re all meant to be from the same place (that is, Dorne), and yet they all sound like completely different bastardisations of a Spanish accent. They basically remind the audience that they are Oberyn’s daughters and that they all want revenge for his death. I hope that the writers this season remember that Oberyn earned his status as a cool character last season and that just because these ladies are related to him, that doesn’t make them instantly cool. They’ll have to earn their place like Oberyn did.
Back to Jorah and Tyrion, still on a boat. Tyrion annoys Jorah by singing through his mouth gag until Jorah takes it off; typical Tyrion, I love it. Tyrion assumes that Jorah is taking him to Cersei, as Jorah mentioned he was taking Tyrion to “the Queen”, but Jorah tells him they’re off to see Daenerys Targaryen. This is funny to Tyrion as he was heading there anyway. Tyrion is then one clever individual and deduces that this person who has kidnapped him is Jorah Mormont of Bear Island. He guesses that Jorah is on the outs with Daenerys, as a result of spying on her in season one, and that Jorah hopes to win back her favour by delivering Tyrion to her. I really liked this scene because it is a great example of exposition given perfectly; not too on the nose, and a believable situation where Tyrion actually would say these things. Or maybe it’s just Peter Dinklage’s innate charm that makes me love it. In any case, Tyrion gets slapped and knocked out by Jorah, which is almost karma for the amount of times Tyrion slapped Joffrey around a couple of seasons ago.
Lastly, in Meereen, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is admiring some terrible CGI from her pyramid’s balcony, reflecting that her city looks very peaceful from above. Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney) approaches her and tells her a story of her brother Rhaegar who loved singing – a stark contrast to Sansa’s description of Rhaegar as a kidnapper and rapist. This moment of backstory provides further detail on Rhaegar, but as he’s definitely dead, I’m sure there is some kind of reason why the writers are bothering with it. If anything this scene reminded the audience of why Barristan Selmy is the ultimate friend and protector. Which makes what happens next really heartbreaking. Daenerys then sees Hizdahr zo Loraq (Joel Fry) in her chamber, where he again implores her to re-open the fighting pits as that day is the start of the fighting season. She refuses. Hizdahr says that traditions are the only thing holding the city together, and without them, the slaves and masters have nothing in common.
Out in the streets, the Sons of the Harpy set out and begin to murder either civilians or what looks like members of Daario’s Second Sons company of mercenaries. Daenerys’ Unsullied army respond to the alarm and are led into a trap, fighting in a narrow hall and closed in on either side. Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) begins fighting and it’s clear that the Sons of the Harpy have the upper hand, which I don’t really understand as the Unsullied are meant to be the best and aren’t meant to even be able to feel any pain, whereas the Sons of the Harpy are meant to be commoners supposedly paid by the upper class. I don’t buy it. But the Sons of the Harpy are killing a lot of the Unsullied, until Barristan Selmy comes along. He goes in to fight and fights admirably, showing his famed skill that has been discussed quite a bit over the seasons. Grey Worm is stabbed in the side and the fight becomes a bloodbath. Still, Grey Worm holds his own and he and Barristan Selmy fight together, but it’s too much for an old man, and he is stabbed. The final shot of the episode is Grey Worm and Barristan Selmy, collapsed close to one another, surrounded by the dead bodies of all of the Sons of the Harpy that were attacking them. There’s some great music over the credits as well.
There were some great fight scenes this episode and this last one was pretty exhilarating. I hope Grey Worm and Barristan Selmy aren’t dead. I think all in all this was an enjoyable episode, with more of that story and character development we’ve come to expect from the first half of most of the Game of Thrones seasons thus far. I think some crazy things will start to happen from the next episode, titled “Kill the Boy”, as the trailer shows Daenerys and her dragons, Ramsay Bolton and his creepy girlfriend, vengeful Sansa, Brienne on her quest to keep the Stark girls safe, Theon hopefully having a line of dialogue, Jon Snow and the wildling Tormund Giantsbane, Stannis and friends heading off to Winterfell, and Tyrion catching sight of a dragon flying above. Can’t wait! What did you think of this episode?